There is more to consider when packing your canoe than just getting all your gear to fit. Weight distribution is important for stability and maneuverability. The same principles apply to loading a canoe as do filling a backpack. Put the heaviest items where they will have the least impact on your balance.
Pack the heavy gear on the bottom and in the center of the canoe. Medium-heavy items can be placed on top of heavier gear, and lighter items can be placed at the far ends of the canoe. This will keep the canoe properly balanced.
You should keep the gear below the gunwales of the canoe or limit their height as much as possible.
Loading items too high will impact your balance and the canoe’s centre of gravity. It will also provide more surface area for the wind to catch. Both can impact the overall stability and maneuverability of the canoe.
Store small items like sunglasses, snacks, water bottle, sunscreen, camera above in small dry bag or pack along with your other day-use items, so they’re easy to reach but aren’t loose all over the bottom of your boat.